The ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code (code) provides guidelines for the classification of linear elastic stresses into primary, secondary, and peak stresses. Although these guidelines cover a wide range of pressure containing components, the guidelines are sometimes difficult to employ for three-dimensional components with complex geometry. This paper uses the mα-tangent method, an assessment of constraint in the component, based on limit load multiplier estimates as a stress classification tool. The method is applied to several practical pressure vessel components from simple to relatively complex geometric configurations. The results compare well with those obtained by conventional techniques, e.g., inelastic finite element analysis.

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